Life after the Leaving Cert
Sir - May I join your excellent columnist, Dr Ciara Kelly (Living, Sunday Independent, May 13), in giving some advice to the many parents of children who will be sitting their Leaving Cert in the next week or so? I am well into my 60s and I still have nightmares about sitting mine.
Tell your children, and often, that you love them. Tell them that you hope they will do their best but whatever the outcome they can come home and they will be loved just as much as ever.
Tell them there is lifelong learning and the Leaving Cert is but one, relatively small, stepping stone along the road of life. And always remember, the ones who do best do not always succeed best in life. I sat my Leaving Cert in 1969, and the pressure was horrific, way over the top. Of course, it did not help that school life in general at that time was a very unhappy experience. I survived and learnt very quickly there was a lot more to life than the Leaving Cert.
God still loves our non-believers
Sir - I am responding to the statement made by Declan Lynch (Sunday Independent, May 13) that "God may be dead". Let me tell you that the vast majority of people in this country do not agree.
I'm sure that people, who do express nihilistic views like this, don't have qualifications in theology. Some seem to have degrees in negativity and groupthink. Matters of a spiritual nature are ignored in the media, or at best misrepresented. Anything that is opposite to this receives front-page coverage.
If God is dead for these people, God still loves them.
Do they ever look at the beauty of nature and imagine the multitude of coincidences that would have had to happen to cause creation without divine intervention?
The Big Bang did happen but who turned on the oven? Most of the positives in Irish society (which makes this one of the best countries in the world to live in) were created by people who worked for God.
What type of society will we have if secularism and materialism keep hurtling along? I shudder to think, but it won't be better.
John Egan, Co Laois
My daughter and the real priorities
Sir - I am a mother to a daughter with Down syndrome. I was pro-life for the majority of my life - until I had a child with a disability, and realised that life is not that black and white.
I have spent my daughter's life fighting for more services, better access to medical intervention when in the hospital, and better understanding of her condition.
It's not an easy road. I love her dearly.
We have repeatedly asked that children or adults with Down syndrome not be used in this campaign. Yet I keep seeing multiple posters clearly showing a girl with Down syndrome and hear talk about abortion as if it was an inevitability.
My child doesn't need someone telling her that she is only here because I didn't have another choice. I had a choice.
She doesn't need someone to stop abortion from happening in Ireland. It's already here, we might as well be in the UK.
What she needs are better services, better understanding by the medical profession about her condition and what it means, and better support for parents - no matter what their choice is.
Rather than using Down syndrome for their posters, the No campaign could instead be publicly donating whatever those posters cost to Down Syndrome Ireland and showing that they actually support those with a disability as opposed to using them just to further punish the women of Ireland.
Don't ignore voices of the midwives
Legalising abortion is easy to promote by those outside the medical industry, who will not be expected to perform terminations. Neither will they have to deal with the heartbreaking issues of babies born alive and left to die - which surely would upset even the most hardened of pro-choicers.
These are the topics that the "vote Yes" brigade don't want to discuss honestly. They've already ignored the personal experiences of women such as midwife Theresa Moylan who witnessed the steep increase of abortions in the early years of UK legalisation and nurse Caren Ni hAllachain who had to live with being unable to help a baby born alive after a botched abortion in Australia.
Now midwives and nurses have said that voting Yes in the abortion referendum is like voting for a ''horror show'' and will lead to a mass exodus of medical professionals from the vocation.
The very reasonable request that midwives don't want to participate in abortions has already been ignored in the UK. Scottish midwives Connie Wood and Mary Doogan lost their court case to avoid participating in abortions, despite the conscientious objection claim of the 1967 UK Abortion Act. Despite thousands of UK midwives' protests, the UK Royal College of Midwives wants to totally decriminalise abortion, remove all time restrictions and take away any protection vulnerable women and their babies have.
Thousands of British midwives have voiced their protests but are being ignored by the RCM, and, of course, the powerhouse that is the abortion industry.
Despite supposedly "trusting women", the Repeal the Eighth cohort aren't willing to trust the mostly female ranks of Irish nurses and midwives and are refusing to listen to these women's voices, that voting Yes will end midwives' desire to help, not kill babies.
MA Women's Studies, UCD,
Milton Keynes, UK
Amendment could have killed me
Sir - It's 2010. I am 26 years old. I have been engaged for three weeks. I have cancer. Am I going to die? Oh my God. Chemotherapy. My hair will fall out. Will I be getting sick for days on end? What will this treatment do to me? If I survive will I be ever able to have children?
It will be OK. We will look after you. Everything will be fine. It won't be easy but you can do it. Scans, chemotherapy, radiotherapy. Your chances are excellent. Is there any chance that you are pregnant? Do. Not. Get. Pregnant. You're on your own if you do. There is nothing we can do.
I hate writing this. I hate bringing myself back to that time in my life. The Eighth Amendment could have killed me. It is time to look after women, to look after our health, our well-being. I was lucky. I survived. Because of the Eighth Amendment other women - mothers, daughters, sisters, friends - did not. On May 25, please vote Yes.
Brenda Keating O'Meara,
Protect lives of both mother and child
Sir - Gene Kerrigan (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, May 13) uses the same one-sided arguments favoured by many Irish journalists since the 1980s - abortion is a private choice for the woman rather than an issue of the right to life of the unborn, therefore those who oppose abortion (like Carol Nolan TD) are anti-choice and believe in exporting our problems to Britain.
Britain's radical abortion law has had a huge impact in Ireland but I think that we can be proud of our resistance, particularly through the Eighth Amendment, to the introduction of similar legislation here. Having lived at various times in both Britain and France, I can testify that debate on abortion in those countries has been largely closed down by the media since liberal abortion laws were passed.
The only question permitted for discussion now is whether there are problems in the access of women to the abortion ''services'' to which they are entitled in law while the question of the legal rights of the unborn is largely ignored.
This seems to be the outcome that Mr Kerrigan desires for Ireland, too. Retention of the Eighth Amendment will allow us to continue to protect the lives of both mothers and children.
Allow people to make own choice
Sir - The latest messaging from anti-choice is that everyone is going to run off and have abortions if the Eighth is repealed. Mind-boggling thinking!
Just because you are allowed to do something doesn't mean you do it. People have abortions when they need and for their own reasons.
You also have a choice to vote thanks to the great women and men before us who allowed this. You can choose to use it or not, again a choice! I urge you to use your right to vote and allow women to choose what they want to do in every aspect of their lives and vote Yes.
Repeal won't mean rise in terminations
Sir - Those expressing concern about the introduction of a ''culture of abortion'' to Ireland may be reassured to know that in countries where abortion is made legal and safe, rates of abortion have been shown to decline significantly over time. In fact, the abortion rate in countries where termination of pregnancy is tightly restricted or outlawed remains higher than that in countries where it is accessible in a safe and regulated manner.
The evidence is very clear. Ireland already has an abortion rate, and legalising abortion is very unlikely to make that rate higher. It will, however, make it safer, easier to access and less traumatic for the woman involved.
Vote that devalues women's autonomy
Sir - It is practically unfathomable to me that throughout the history of human experience, women have generally not been afforded full personhood. We have been legally less entitled to have a rich and varied life.
Only within the last few generations of human experience have women legally held any role outside of the domestic, after all 5,000 years of recorded human history. Recognition of full female personhood took a hit here in Ireland 1983, when the Eighth Amendment was enacted. Any woman's full and rich lived history became equivalent to a spark of life, a potential that does not even carry a possibility of independent life. Today, we as women have the opportunity to stand forward and reclaim our personhood. Whether or not you want abortion to exist, your No vote devalues a woman's life and autonomy. Her very right to personhood. She is probably your mother, your sister, your friend. She is you.
Decision can leave legacy of loneliness
Sir - I read so many complaining that the difficulties they are experiencing because they had an abortion is because it happened in another country.
I come from a former communist country. Abortion was available and many women had abortions in their own community, but the pain is the same as that of those women who travel on a plane or ferry to the UK. It is not the place where it occurs but the relationship of a mother and baby cut short prematurely that causes the pain.
Many feel the loneliness of old age without the son or daughter that should be there. Many feel deeply guilty for ending that life.
Now let's hear the cost of political aides
Sir - Well done on publishing a list of all TDs with details of pensions, salaries, etc (Sunday Independent, May 13). Now, why not complete the picture by listing how many special advisers each minister has, their names, their salaries, pension rights, etc.
After all, at least our TDs are elected by us. If each minister has a department with a very able secretary general, and these people are very able, to support him, or her, what is the need for special advisers?
Rich pickings for our representatives
Sir - Big thanks for publishing the political rich list (Sunday Independent, May 13). The figures released provide an interesting insight into the emoluments of our public representatives. It's nice to see that our smoked-salmon socialist politicians won't be on the breadline anytime soon, unlike the proletariat they represent.
Fair play forgotten in sporting travesty
Mayo and Galway would be in the dock if bringing the game into disrepute was an offence in the rule book, following their mean-minded, foul-ridden, boring meeting in Castlebar.
That game can only be described as a travesty. It's sad to see counties once known for high-quality, fair-play football fall to such depths. Their managements should be ashamed.
Address with Editor
Kimmage is always on top of his game
Sir - Just had to put pen to paper to say how much I enjoy reading Paul Kimmage every week in the Sunday Independent - whether it's his excellent knowledge of cycling or his brilliant article on the Athenry GAA Club or last week's fantastic back page on going into battle featuring Katie Walsh and Debbie Kane. It was an excellent dad read! Well done Paul, you really are a gem!
Never forget the murders of IRA
Sir - Again Eoghan Harris is right and also brave (Sunday Independent, May 13). He is not afraid to speak out about the carry on in the Dail regarding Sinn Fein, supporters of the IRA.
The under 40s do not know about, or if they do they ignore, the murders and bombings carried out by the IRA who Sinn Fein supports and identifies with. As was said by Eoghan Harris, they need to be told about the murder of Det Garda Jerry McCabe and how the murderers are at large. It appears Fine Gael are delighted to be courted by them, particularly the Taoiseach.
I hope our press will cop on and identify that history to our future leaders.
The support they are getting from RTE is appalling.
The two nations of Northern Ireland
Sir - Dorcha Lee (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 13) agrees "there are two nations on this island".
The same two nations live in Northern Ireland. The British unionist nation is called the ''majority'' and the Irish nation is called the ''minority''. Britain claims sovereignty over both nations, thereby denying Irish people their right to national freedom.
The right to national freedom is different from the "aspiration" for a united Ireland.
Furthermore, unionists hate the idea of a united Ireland. It should not be forced on them. Instead, think equal self-determination.